First consumer organisations designated as "super-complainants"

United Kingdom

The National Consumer Council, Consumers Association and Citizens Advice have become the first bodies to be formally designated as super-complainants under the Enterprise Act 2002. They will now have the power to make super-complaints to regulators about anti-competitive behaviour which they believe damages consumer interests.

Super-complaints are made to market regulators about features of a given market, such as the structure of the market or the conduct of those operating in it, which appear to be harming the interests of consumers. They provide a fast-track for raising potential market and competition abuses as the regulator to whom the super-complaint is made must consider the super-complaint and publish a public response to it within 90 days, stating whether or not it intends to take any actions on the complaint.

Only those bodies which have been designated by the Secretary of State can make a super-complaint.  Designated bodies must represent the interests of consumers and meet certain criteria concerning integrity, independence and the ability to produce super-complaints. 

Although these three organisations are the first bodies to be formally designated as super-complainants, there have already been a number of informal super-complaints relating to private dentistry, doorstep selling, care homes and home credit. The OFT is keen to create an atmosphere where consumer competition issues receive swift attention.

Non-designated bodies and individuals are also able to bring complaints to market regulators and the regulators will deal with them, although without the 90 day deadline.  Super-complaints are however a fast-track route for bodies representing consumers.

For details of the DTI's announcement, please click here.

For more information on super-complaints or designation, please contact Susan Hankey at susan.hankey@cms-cmck.com or on +44 (0) 207 367 2960, David Marks at david.marks@cms-cmck.com or on +44 (0) 207 367 2136 or Richard Taylor at richard.taylor@cms-cmck.com or on +44 (0) 207 367 2108.